For greater Glory
My mother once said to me that Catholics are agents of God with a conviction to stay true to our beliefs and to help out others in need without reward or reason. The topic of religion has always been a slippery-slope in films with so many arrogant critics that look at faith-based movies as biased and one-sided or that they only preach to a certain audience; because of that, this genre of films tends to get a bad rap or is criminally underrated. Some of these faith-based films actually hold more importance than the random opinion of a critic who can't see the whole picture; something I'm sure Mel Gibson is aware of with Hacksaw Ridge. After a long hiatus from directing, Mel marks his return with this true-life story of Desmond Doss, the very first conscientious objector to win the Medal of Honor after saving the lives of his fellow soldiers at the Battle of Okinawa. The story begins with Desmond's (Andrew Garfield) early childhood and his upbringing as a Seventh-Day Adventist. After nearly killing his own brother by accident, Doss reaffirms his enforcement in the ten Commandments; specifically Thou Shall Not Kill. His strong belief of his virtues complicates things for him when he enlists in the Army where his superiors and fellow soldiers clash with his pacifist ideals. When he refuses to handle a weapon (which is part of his basic training), his actions further ostracize him to the point where he is arrested for insubordination. Doss' faith is tested when he has to make an ultimatum: compromise his beliefs or be incarcerated for not doing so. Mel's direction in this film is artistic as it is gruesome to watch, never letting the viewer forget that this is still a movie about war as it is about faith and valor. There are particular scenes in the film that incorporate Biblical themes and imagery which becomes seamless in the backdrop of combat such as the moment where Doss is carried off the battlefield and lowered down the cliff. The camera pans above him where you can see the remains of corpses and fire beneath him (representing Hell on Earth) but as the camera moves underneath him, you can see a clear sky (representing the kingdom of Heaven); metaphorically marking his ascension. Andrew Garfield's portrayal as Desmond Doss is genuine as it is faithful to the real man himself along with the other supporting cast who bring the whole movie together. The battle scenes are intense and cruel, perfectly capturing the horrors of war and agony. Regardless of whether you are a person of faith or not, Hacksaw Ridge is an incredible anti-war film which shows us that hope can be an important adversary in the darkest of times, and that faith isn't a weakness but an important instrument that can help overcome any situation. Hacksaw Ridge is Mel Gibson's best film yet and comes highly recommended.